Vatadage is one of the unique, ancient buddhist architectures of Sri Lanka. The best example of a vatadage is mostly believed to be the Polonnaruwa Vatadage, where the entire structure is decorated with stone carvings of the 12th century.
This monument was built by Parakramabahu I to hold the Relic of the tooth of the Buddha says the text ‘Chulavamsa’. But other texts such as the ‘Rajavaliya’ and the ‘ Poojavaliya’ claim that it was built by King Nissanka Malla and used as the depository for the alms bowl used by Lord Buddha.
The Polonnaruwa Vatadage has two stone platforms which are lower and raised upper platform decorated with elaborate stone carvings.
The lower platform is about 120 feet in diameter and approximately 4 feet in height from the ground level, consisting of a single entrance facing the north and decorated with friezes of lions and dwarfs and topped by an abstract lotus design.
The upper platform contains the stupa surrounded by a circular brick wall and four doorways facing the four cardinal directions. These four entrances are adorned with magnificent stone carvings of moonstone at the northern entrance and guardian stones on the eastern entrance flanked by king cobra figures with seven hooded cobra head guardstones. There are four Buddha statues constructed on the wall facing each entrance of the upper platform.
Three concentric rows of stone columns had also been positioned here, presumably to support a wooden dome. The current position of this architecture does not have its wooden roof but still can find large pillars that support the roof structure.
Moreover, the four entrances of the complex display some exemplary sculptures of the Lord Buddha in the seated position carved from solid rock, along with other unique features that showcase some of the finest artistry in the whole kingdom.